Marshall PlanMarshall Plan https://diplomacy.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/England-Something-for-everybody.jpg 635 508 https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/2a47b996235df26bce7db9d2c8c17fac?s=96&d=mm&r=g
…it is a business plan plus…plus political direction, plus diplomatic guidance…The Marshall Plan means work, and you will be one of the workers….”
When Albanus Phillips, the President of Phillips Packing Company in Cambridge, Maryland, sent a letter to John Steelman on April 13, 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman’s Chief of Staff, asking if his canning company could participate in the European Recovery Act, the law was only 10 days old. Commonly known as the Marshall Plan after Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had argued for its purpose, the initiative aimed to assist European nations in recovering from the economic damage wrought from World War II, and the immediate need was for food and fuel.
American businessmen, like Phillips, were quick to jump at the chance to capitalize on exporting American-made products to war-torn Europe. In appealing his case, Phillips offered “several million cans” of peas, “strictly Fancy quality Tomato Juice,” and various offerings of condensed soups. Employing 10,000, the Phillips Packing Company operated at full-steam during the war feeding hungry U.S. GI’s, and its President realized that the company’s war-time production far outweighed domestic demand. Phillips was cautious to advise that the sale of these products would not hurt the U.S. food economy, as the contents had already been packaged. He also acknowledged that the contents were not as high in calories as “grains and thus the amount of calories per dollar would not be as great,” but would be perfect for the “diet of children as well as of older people.”
Steelman replied promptly 7 days later, advising Phillips that official channels had been set in place in the form of the Economic Cooperation Administration’s Food Division, and directed him to outline a proposal for the agency’s review. The U.S. government was soon flooded with similar requests, particularly after the May 1948 publication of “How To Do Business Under the Marshall Plan,” in the well-respected financial forecasting Kiplinger Magazine, giving its readers a thorough review on how to “make the stuff, sell the stuff, ship the stuff.”
The Marshall Plan marked a profound shift in American foreign policy objectives. Instead of providing humanitarian aid after a war or crisis and withdrawing, policy makers used the strength and stability of the American market and currency economy to ensure that the nations receiving aid would use it not only to recover, but to become self-sufficient and reliable allies of the United States. As socialist and communist political ideologies spread through much of Europe, the Plan’s undergirding democratic principle of free markets and free trade strongly countered fledgling anti-democratic political groups. American businessmen took an active part in the Plan’s implementation, serving on committees and helping to develop economic roadmaps; CEOs from Studebaker Automobile, General Foods, Coca-Cola, Scott Paper, Quaker Oats, General Electric, and Goldman Sachs participated. To prevent price inflation for Americans at home, these committees carefully monitored commodities and the dollar-to-recipient country currency exchange. American suppliers were paid in U.S. dollars credited to a fund the countries paid back to the U.S. government.
The U.S. contributed $13.3 billion to 16 European countries over four years and the stabilizing effect was seen within weeks. The majority of economic development aid came in the form of food, fuel, machinery, and medicine, and the American economy, in turn, flourished–also shepherding multilateral relationships such as NATO and the EU. The model of development aid, as a tool of foreign policy, was now firmly established. No longer would assistance be provided as a humanitarian gift; aid to allies and developing nations is considered a strategic investment for the security of the American people.
“How to do Business Under the Marshall Plan,” Kiplinger Magazine (Washington, DC), Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1948
“Maryland History: The Phillips Packing and Seafood Company,” online article, 25 June 2017, http://www.preservationmaryland.org/maryland-history-the-phillips-packing-and-seafood-company/
Truman Library, Official File 426
How to do Business Under the Marshall Plan,” Kiplinger Magazine (Washington, DC), Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1948
Amy C. Garrett, “”Helping Europe Help Itself: The Marshall Plan,” The Foreign Service Journal, January/February 2018).